Understanding Millennials

gun range group shot.jpgMillennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest generation in US history with more than 80 million strong. In addition, with over 40% being non-caucasian, they are ethnically diverse. They have come of age in a time of technology that has allowed them to access what they want, when they want. And, they are choosing different paths for themselves.

Their current mean age is 32 (born between 1980 and 2000), which makes them prime candidates for your program marketing efforts.  

A lot has been written about Millennials; they are the most studied generation ever. These studies have identified numerous general characteristics, some of which are applicable to learn-to-hunt/fish programs: 

  • Authenticity is important – They have heard all of the ads and all of the promises, and are skeptical of all of the hype. Having “authentic” instructors who deal with topics in an “authentic” manner is critical. Delivering information in a straightforward manner without “spin” or rhetoric is the best path. 
  • Experiences are highly valued – They want to do, not be told. New opportunities to participate in activities like hunting, fishing and cooking wild fish and game can build on this desire for unique, meaningful experiences.
  • Being involved is critical – While important in many aspects of their lives, this is especially important in educational endeavors. They prefer to learn in small groups rather than in lecture formats, and prefer to have a conversation about what they are learning. Having the opportunity to provide feedback is highly valued.
  • Quality is important – They prefer to have less if it is higher quality. This applies to all purchases, including food selections. Being involved in obtaining high quality food through hunting and fishing, as well as obtaining and using high quality gear, reinforces this trait.
  • Are highly visual communicators – They often prefer to send—and receive – information in a visual format. Visuals that are used in your program, either in presentations or promotional material, should be selected so that Millennials “can see themselves” participating in that particular activity. In addition, having current participants post photos of themselves having fun and experiencing a novel activity while participating in your program is likely the best advertising you can get.
  • Concerned about social and environmental issues – Social justice issues such as fair trade and rural incomes, and environmental issues such as pollution, pesticide and herbicide use, animal welfare, and sustainability all rate high. Obtaining local, sustainable food from an animal that lived a life free from cages and industrial agricultural processes, and died in a quick, humane manner is an extension of these concerns.
  • More urban – Because they tend to reside in more urban areas, they are less connected to rural communities, and cultures. However, they still have interest and empathy toward rural areas and rural based activities.   
  • Most racially and ethnically diverse – As a result of this reality, they are extremely open to diversity in everything they do.
  • Strongly influenced by their peers – They rely heavily on the opinions, word-of-mouth recommendations (likely delivered via text or other electronic media), and experiences of their peers when selecting products and activities. High ratings from a few of their peers, especially when accompanied by a few photos of past participants having fun while participating in an “authentic” experience, will strongly influence their choices.
  • Are connected – Mobile devices are the first choice for obtaining information or sharing their experiences. Information and experiences are shared almost instantly. Because they are so connected, programs will need to integrate social media into program marketing. In addition, participants will likely use their mobile devices to enhance their hunting and fishing education, as well as share their experiences via social media. This use of mobile devices can greatly enhance program marketing and delivery.

The take away message from this information is that high quality programs, taught by authentic, innovative instructors who involve participants in their own education, and are open to diversity in opinions and people will be highly successful. In addition, programs should emphasize the sustainable, high quality, “free range” protein that is obtained through hunting and fishing. The best way to obtain this protein is to be involved in harvesting it yourself.